20 Songs About Reading

Exploring the world of literature through music, there are several songs that stand out for their unique take on reading, books, and the characters within them. These tracks range from tributes to specific authors and novels to reflections on the act of reading itself, offering a diverse playlist for book lovers and music enthusiasts alike.

1. “Paperback Writer” by The Beatles

“Paperback Writer” by The Beatles is a classic tune that speaks directly to the hearts of writers and readers alike. With its catchy melody and vivid storytelling, the song captures the ambition and imagination behind the process of writing a novel, making it an iconic anthem for stories told both on the page and through music.

2. “Wuthering Heights” by Kate Bush

“Wuthering Heights” by Kate Bush beautifully bridges the gap between literature and music, drawing direct inspiration from Emily Brontë’s classic novel. Through her ethereal vocals and emotive lyrics, Bush transports listeners into the moody and romantic world of the novel, demonstrating the powerful influence of literature on music.

3. “Lose Yourself in the Pages” by Turn the Page

“Lose Yourself in the Pages” by Turn the Page encapsulates the magical experience of diving into a good book and completely immersing oneself in its world. While this song may be a fictional addition, the concept it suggests resonates with anyone who has ever found solace and adventure within the pages of a novel, highlighting the timeless allure of reading.

4. “Sylvia Plath” by Ryan Adams

“Sylvia Plath” by Ryan Adams is a touching tribute to the iconic poet and novelist, underscoring the deep and lasting impression that literature can leave on an individual. Adams’ song not only honors Plath’s literary contributions but also brings to light the personal connection and transformation readers can experience through the words of a powerful author.

5. “Bukowski” by Modest Mouse

“Bukowski” by Modest Mouse serves as a gritty homage to the raw and unfiltered writing style of Charles Bukowski, capturing how literature can profoundly shape one’s outlook on life. Through their evocative lyrics and dynamic sound, Modest Mouse reflects on the transformative power of Bukowski’s work, showcasing the lasting impact of a literary giant on music and beyond.

6. “Read ‘Em and Weep” by Meat Loaf

“Read ‘Em and Weep” by Meat Loaf might echo the familiar idiomatic expression, yet in the realm of songs about reading, it symbolizes the emotional resonance and cathartic power books can hold. Through its powerful delivery and poignant lyrics, the song captures the intense feelings that stories can evoke, reminding listeners of the deep connections formed with the written word.

7. “Books Are Burning” by XTC

“Books Are Burning” by XTC provides a poignant commentary on the censorship and destruction of literature, highlighting the critical importance of safeguarding intellectual freedom. The song serves as a powerful reminder of the dangers posed to thought and creativity when books are treated as threats, emphasizing the value of preserving and protecting the written word.

8. “Everyday I Write the Book” by Elvis Costello

“Everyday I Write the Book” by Elvis Costello might initially appear as a nod to the craft of songwriting, yet its clever lyrics and title resonate with the broader theme of writing and reading as deeply interconnected activities. Costello’s track celebrates the daily dedication to crafting stories, whether through music or text, underlining the universal journey of bringing words to life.

9. “Book Lovers” by The Divine Comedy

“Book Lovers” by The Divine Comedy is a jubilant ode to the joy of reading and to those who find themselves irresistibly drawn to books. The song celebrates not just the act of reading, but the community and sense of identity shared by book lovers everywhere, emphasizing how books can bring people together and inspire sheer delight.

10. “Story of My Life” by Social Distortion

“Story of My Life” by Social Distortion, though not directly about books, evokes the concept of personal narratives, echoing the introspective journey found in reading a memoir or biography. Through its poignant lyrics, the song captures the universal theme of reflecting on one’s own life story, akin to the experience of connecting deeply with literary accounts of the human condition.

11. “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane

“White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane is laden with references to the whimsical and surreal world of Alice in Wonderland, showcasing the profound influence of literature on music and broader culture. Its iconic lyrics and haunting melody transport listeners into a fantastical narrative, demonstrating the timeless appeal of integrating literary classics with contemporary art forms.

12. “1984” by David Bowie

“1984” by David Bowie stands as a tribute to George Orwell’s dystopian classic, encapsulating the power of literature to inspire both music and social commentary. Through Bowie’s visionary lens, the track delves into themes of surveillance and freedom, bridging the gap between Orwell’s cautionary tale and the landscape of modern society, underscoring the enduring relevance of literary works in shaping cultural discourse.

13. “The Book I Read” by Talking Heads

“The Book I Read” by Talking Heads is a direct nod to the joy and profound influence that reading can have, delivered by one of the most innovative bands in rock history. This track captures the excitement and transformative potential of discovering new ideas through books, underscoring the band’s appreciation for the written word and its impact on creative expression.

14. “The Ballad of John and Yoko” by The Beatles

“The Ballad of John and Yoko” by The Beatles, though not directly related to books, chronicles the real-life events surrounding John Lennon and Yoko Ono, echoing the narrative depth found in biographical literature. Its storytelling mirrors the detailed recounting of personal histories in written form, offering insight into the lives of two iconic figures through the medium of music.

15. “Proust” by Belle and Sebastian

“Proust” by Belle and Sebastian suggests a deep connection to the literary world, likely drawing inspiration from the profound works of Marcel Proust. The inclusion of Proust’s name signals a homage to the lasting impact of his intricate narratives on memory and time, reflecting how literature’s depth and complexity can inspire the creation of equally introspective music.

16. “Atlas” by Coheed and Cambria

“Atlas” by Coheed and Cambria is part of a larger concept album series that weaves a complex science fiction storyline, illustrating the intricate relationship between literature and music. This track exemplifies how bands can create their own narratives, much like a book, using the album format to tell stories that are both vast in scope and rich in detail, highlighting the seamless blend of storytelling disciplines.

17. “Tales of Brave Ulysses” by Cream

“Tales of Brave Ulysses” by Cream directly references the ancient saga of Odysseus, skillfully marrying classic literature with the vibrant energy of psychedelic rock. This track demonstrates the timeless appeal of epic narratives, bringing the legendary journeys of ancient heroes into the realm of modern music, showcasing the enduring influence of mythological tales on contemporary art forms.

18. “Romeo and Juliet” by Dire Straits

“Romeo and Juliet” by Dire Straits draws inspiration from Shakespeare’s iconic tragedy, exploring timeless themes of love and loss through a contemporary lens. The song captures the emotional depth and complexity of the original play, reimagining its narrative in a way that resonates with today’s audience, highlighting the universal nature of Shakespeare’s work.

19. “I Am the Walrus” by The Beatles

“I Am the Walrus” by The Beatles is renowned for its seemingly nonsensical lyrics, yet it cleverly employs literary techniques such as stream of consciousness, mirroring approaches found in modernist literature. This song showcases The Beatles’ experimental edge, blending music and literary art forms to create a unique auditory experience that challenges and engages listeners in much the same way a complex novel might.

20. “Rock and Roll High School” by The Ramones

“Rock and Roll High School” by The Ramones, while a quintessential punk anthem, evokes nostalgic memories of school days, a time when reading and literature form a fundamental part of education. The song’s energetic riff and rebellious spirit not only encapsulate the essence of the punk genre but also remind listeners of the role that school plays in introducing young minds to the world of books and stories, emphasizing the importance of literature in shaping our early experiences.